Midengine Mover: 1994 Toyota Previa All-Trac – SOLD!

by | Oct 2021 | Classifinds, Truckin Tuesday

November 8, 2021 Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

As our Rad Era Editor Jeff Lavery will attest, that time (1980-1999) in automotive history saw both foreign and domestic manufacturers think out of the box.  In the case of Toyota’s egg-shaped, mid-engined, Previa, designers and engineers offered a not-another-box-shaped minivan.  A quirky design even when new, one of the more coveted versions is an all-wheel-drive All Trac model such as this restored 1994 example originally listed in October 2021 on Craigslist in Croydon, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) offered at $4,500 currently. While coveted by Rad Era enthusiasts, prices remain well below ten large for very nice examples.  While The J.D. Power NADA Guides Online Valuation Tool indicates the $4,500 ask is above this guide’s “Low”, “Average”, and “High” average retail price range of $1,042, $1,828, $2,380, respectively, two sales on Bring a Trailer confirm the private seller has his high-mileage Previa priced below the results of those.

Toyota sold the Previa minivan in the U.S. for the 1991 through 1997 model years. Toyota elected to import the van as an attempt to steal market share from Chrysler’s successful trio of minivans. While the Previa proved more popular than the Toyota Van it replaced, it did not acquire significant market share from Chrysler.  Not only was this due to its higher price, controversial styling, lower fuel economy, and slow engine performance, the 1996 launch of Chrysler’s send-generation minivans in 1994 made matters even worse.

While the mid-engine layout was a great way to improve the van’s handling, the design proved to have a significant limitation—the inability to incorporate larger engine sizes, which proved a problem as American drivers were used to having more power. Consequently, starting with the 1994 model year, Toyota attempted to rectify engine performance by fitting a Roots-type supercharger with air-to-air intercooler, providing six psi of boost (these models were called the “S/C”), bringing the engine power up to a competitive 158 hp while increasing fuel mileage from 17 to 23 mpg‑US. Initially, the S/C engine was only available as an option on the LE for the 1994 model year and all models for 1995.  The United States version of the Previa was discontinued after the 1997 model year, replaced by the more traditionally designed, front-wheel drive, US-designed and built, Camry-based Sienna.

If you can get past the bathroom humor (it’s the knowledgeable narrator’s schtick), the YouTube Channel Regular Car Reviews does a nice job of quantifying the mystique of Toyota’s Mid-engine van:

Arguably the worst exterior color to paint an egg-shaped Previa is white. While the design was very polarizing when it debuted, in our humble opinion it has aged well.  The seller has extensively sorted this very clean-for-its-mileage example.

When you connect, please remember to mention you saw their 1994 Previa LE All Trac featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Up for sale is my 1994 Toyota Previa LE All-Trac minivan.
This is a rare example with a very clean interior, shiny exterior, mechanically in perfect condition with replaced engine, transmission, transfer case along with mindful upgrades. No leaks, EVERYTHING works. The van has 207585 miles and I thought I will keep it forever.
I am the owner (title is in my name) since Jan.2, 2005. Picked up from NJ with 151k, and resided in Bucks, PA ever since.
Constantly overhauled, brakes. suspension, alignment. The transmission started to slip in reverse with 195k , so I installed a JDM (along with the transfer case) replacement. At the same time I owned 2001 Sienna XLE (sold) and 2008 Sienna Limited AWD, so with no rush came my decision to replace the whole engine instead of merely put a new head gasket. The project took me a year, to acquire all parts but turned out great. All seals, bearings, engine and transmission mounts, sensors , spark plugs, wires, distributor , pulleys, belts revolvers, driveshaft support, exhaust manifold, flex pipe, catalytic convertor, muffler, alternator, radiator, hoses, water pump, etc. were replaced. I remember replacing rear brake calipers and the rusted proportionate valve, cleaning the EGR passage, as well restoring the emergency brake. Now has a brand new battery with attached receipt for warranty.
Upgrades include a 7″ head unit with IGO Primo navigation, backup camera and remote, i-phone cable( never used) integration with the original amplifier, second bass amplifier behind the driver’s door panel, added subwoofer, HID lights, DRL (lights). interior lights (bright, not bluish) LED. Included are the 1994 Previa Owner’s Manual , Invoice for the engine dated 2014, Chilton Previa1991-1997 Repair Manual, 2 keys, and if you wish a rear door spoiler. Interior has a new carpet, windshield wipers are the originally installed with new silicone inserts. There is a new not installed windshield film shade for the hot summers. I preserved the old engine and you are welcome to take it, if you like.
Previa is a very versatile van although somewhat underpowered, but with permanent AWD has a noticeable start punch and nice fun cornering due to the low center of gravity. It can be a perfect camper, hauls 4×8 standard sheet plywood/sheetrock and ample room to carry my tractor or washer, dryer plus 2 pedestals altogether. It has a remarkable built quality. I used only OEM parts, new and used from South CA. I have many detailed photos in google drive.

Show or go: what would you do with this restored Previa All Trac?  Comment below and let us know!

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